The Glass Menagerie Analysis

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“The Glass Menagerie,” by Tennessee Williams, is a memory play designed to reveal some type of truth by examining the life of a family living in St. Louis. However, what exactly the play is trying to reveal remains unclear even as the play draws to a close. The play ends on a slightly confusing note, with Tom, the narrator, saying “for nowadays the world is lit by lightning! Blow out your candles, Laura - and so goodbye....” (Williams 97) and then Laura blowing out her candles. However, upon closer examination, the meaning and significance of this line become clear. After examining the symbolism around candlelight and natural light, it is evident that the last line of the play is really Tom saying that he is seeing the harsh reality of the world, and therefore he is begging Laura to get rid of her kindness and hope. Only once he relays this message can he say goodbye and let go of her memory, which gives the reader a hint at his motivation for telling this story. Candlelight is used to symbolize human kindness and romantic hope. Partway through Jim and Laura’s conversation during dinner, the stage directions indicate that “Jim lights a cigarette and leans indolently back on his elbows smiling at Laura with a warmth and charm which lights her inwardly with altar candles.” (Williams 79) These directions plainly draw an association between “warmth and charm” and “candles,” which indicates that candles are correlated with human kindness. Additionally, these stage directions

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